March 3, 2016
I am very excited about the progress we are making with regards to our preparation to address some overdue issues during our scheduled work sessions meetings. I am also providing a list of upcoming community events, some of which will require the Town Board's approval.
RESIGNATION OF COMMISSIONER CECIL HARKEY
It is with great sadness that I must inform all of you that Commissioner Harkey has informed me that due to serious health issues, he must resign from his position. Although we will miss him on this board, during his brief tenure, he has helped to make a positive difference in our town. Due to Commissioner Harkey's concerns, we now have designated parking spots in the downtown section of our town. I would ask that you please continue to keep Mr. Harkey in your prayers.
We have scheduled work sessions for the third Wednesday of each month at 5:00 pm. The dates and subjects to be discussed are as follows:
March 16, 2016: Sewer System/Water Treatment – We received a very alarming report last month regarding the current status of our sewer and water treatment system. We now know that we need to start working on a plan of action to address the multiple problems concerning our water treatment system and identify potential funding sources (grants and loans) that may be utilized to pay for this project.
April 20, 2016: Financial Records and Budget – We need to have a work session in order to help the new members of the Town Council to understand the financial record keeping system of the town, which will help us to understand and assist in the preparation of the Annual Budget.
May 18, 2016: CADA Building – We need to address problems with the building which is the home of the Head Start Program, run by the Choanoke Area Development Association (CADA). It was brought to my attention that the the town owns the building and there may be an on-going problem with a leak in the roof. There are some other issues with regards to this building which requires our immediate attention.
June 15, 2016: By-Laws - The Town Council needs to adopt procedural rules for how it will operate and govern the Town of Woodland, which would include a Code-of Conduct for the Mayor and Council Members, as well as a written explanation of the duties and responsibilities for each Commissioner Position. As I have learned in the “Orientation Class for New Mayors,” Town Boards should have a written guide to procedures.
This guide must take into consideration state statutes and the Town's Charter. This may require more than one work session. We can obtain a copy of the Northampton County's By-Laws to help us. We can also use the pamphlet, “Suggested Rules of Procedure for a City Council,” which is published by the Institute of Government.
July 20, 2016: Process for Releasing Records – We need to establish a written, standard operating procedure for releasing records. Many individuals and news agencies have been requesting copies of the Minutes from the 12/3/15 meeting and we need to set up a process by which any documents which come under the Public Information Act can and should be released, including the fees.
Northampton County Board of Commissioners – In January, I submitted a letter to the county board requesting that the members consider donating the playground equipment to Woodland, once they receive a grant to upgrade the playground equipment at the Wellness Center. The county recently received notification that it will be awarded the grant. I called the Michelle Nelson, the Clerk to the County Board this morning and was told that they are still discussing the matter and are awaiting further information, before they can make a final decision.
Documentary on Woodland's Solar Farm Issue – On Sunday, February 21, 2016, the four college students from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington returned to Woodland to interview some of our residents and to take more photographs and video footage of the solar farms. As part of a class project, the students have decided to produce a documentary about the Town of Woodland and the recent solar farm issue. They were pleased to have had the opportunity to meet so many of Woodland's citizens, including Commissioners Lane and Liverman. I was informed that they will need to make a third and final trip, before preparing their final product. The students are anticipating completion of the documentary by late April, or early May. We will obtain a DVD copy for the town's records. It is their hope that they will be able to enter their documentary into several competitions and maybe even win some awards. We certainly do wish them well in this endeavor.
Letters from 91 Seventh Graders – As you may recall, in January, we received a package of letters we from Ms. Sonya Berger, a Science Teacher in Montgomery, New York. Ms. Berger and her science students submitted letters to the Town of Woodland, in an attempt to convince our town board to reconsider our decision regarding the use of solar energy. Commissioner sent a letter in response to their letter on February 16, 2016, Commissioner Liverman sent a response to Ms. Berger regarding the misinformation which she shared with her students. On February 25, 2016, I sent Ms. Berger a letter as well.
Essentials of Government Training: I am also very pleased to announce that I, along with Commissioners Pat Liverman and Ron Lane, will attend the two-day training seminar on Friday March 4th and Saturday, March 5th. Commissioner Lane will attend the seminar in place of Mr. Cecil Harkey, who resigned from the town board. The training program is sponsored by the League of Municipalities and will be held in Greenville, NC.
This program will give us an opportunity to learn more about how best to serve this community and the citizens whom we represent. It will also provide us with the the mandatory two hour ethics training we are obligated to take. Additionally, we will also be provided with information regarding the specific duties and responsibilities each of us are assigned, as members of this organization. We currently do not have any written explanation of the specific jobs and duties of our commissioners.
Weekly Line Dancing Social: We are considering putting together a weekly line dancing program, for the sake of getting our bodies moving (for health reasons) and having some fun. More information will follow, as to specific dates and location.
Easter Parade (March 19, 2016 at 10:00 am) – On March 1, 2016, the Easter Parade/Easter Egg Hunt Committee met here at Town Hall. 15 individuals have agreed to serve on this committee and will help to put together the Easter Parade and Easter Egg Hunt.
Members of the Committee, including myself are: Pattie Manuel, Lynn Lane, Margaret Burgwyn, Pastor Susan Harrison, Cathy Newsome, Bobby Mann, Jane Mann, Carolyn Spruill, Penny Kroh, Dawn Ascyue, Emmie Griffin, Donielle Ryan McDermott, and her daughter, Leah McDermott.
As of this date, 57 letters have been sent out to our local churches and businesses, as well as our county agencies and other municipal offices and businesses in Northampton County. We have received many favorable responses. Including confirmation that “Smokey the Bear” (from the Northampton County Office of NC Forestry Service) and “Fat Cat” from the State Employees Credit Union be joining us.
We have purchased and received the Easter Bunny costume. Regarding donations, we have received over $200 in monetary donations and we have also received a large amount of candy, for the Easter Egg Hunt. The committee also intends to prepare a float to represent the Town of Woodland in the parade.
Margaret Burgwyn has granted the committee permission to have her window decorated for Easter,
The parade route will begin at the National Guard Armory on Cherry Street and turn right on West Main Street. We will turn right on Myrtle Street and end at Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church. The total distance is approximately 1.2 miles.
Chief Ruppe will contact the appropriate agency and inform them of our intentions with regards to using State Highway 258 for this purpose.
We have secured the Armory, for the purposes serving refreshments following the parade and serve as a location for those requiring a lavatory. The Armory is free of charge, since this is a town-sponsored event.
I would like to thank the Town Council for allowing us to sponsor this parade and for its willingness to help fund this event.
Easter Egg Hunt (March 26, 2016 at 10:00 am) – We are planning an Easter Egg Hunt at the Recreation Field. We have over 1,000 plastic eggs. There will be four age groups: 1-2; 3- 4; 5-7; and 8-10.
There will be a Golden Egg in each age group and smaller prizes in each age group. We figure 5 prizes for each age group (nothing very expensive, but nice).
We have been receiving many donations for prizes and as well as a variety of candy. The committee members have agreed to help fill the eggs, distribute the eggs at the park and hand out prizes.
National Day of Prayer (Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 11:00 am) - The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for our nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Since its inception, this day has continually united Americans from all socio-economic, political, and ethnic backgrounds in prayer while also encouraging personal repentance and righteousness in the culture. The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans and is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens to celebrate our most beloved freedom; the freedom to humbly come before God and seek His guidance in prayer (taken from the National Day of Prayer website).
We will hold a brief service at Town Hall. I will be asking all of our churches and local ministers to participate, as well as anyone else who would like to attend.
OTHER TOWN-WIDE EVENTS TO CONSIDER FOR 2016
Youth Day (June 25, 2016) – A special day to celebrate the youth of our Town (More information to follow).
National Night Out Against Crime (August 2, 2016) - National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live.
The National Night Out program culminates annually on the first Tuesday of August. Note: Texas (October) date is the first Tuesday of October. Neighbors celebrate across thousands of communities from all fifty states, United States territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide (More information to follow).
Mayor's Ball (Saturday, September 17, 2016, from 7:00pm to 11:00pm) – We are planning a Mayor's Ball, a formal dinner party, which will include terrific food, great music and lots of dancing and partying. The event will serve as a fund raising activity to help offset the costs of some of the programs and activities I would like to create and sponsor in the Town of Woodland (More information to follow).
Craft Fair (Saturday, November 5, 2016) – We are looking forward to sponsoring our Second Annual Craft Fair. Last year's event was very successful and we will be working on trying to make it bigger and better than before!! We will provide more information about this event later in the year.
Veteran's Day Service (Friday, November 11, 2016) – We would like to have some kind of a special service, or program to honor all of our veterans in the Woodland area (More information to follow).
Christmas Tree Lighting & Caroling (Friday, December 2, 2016) – Last year, we had a fun time going throughout the neighborhoods of Woodland, singing our hearts out to our friends and neighbors. This year, I would like to have everyone come to Town Hall for a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Caroling. We can also serve hot chocolate and other refreshments. Even if we have to purchase an artificial tree!! We will provide more information about this event later in the year.
Christmas Party For Children (Saturday, December 17, 2016, from 9:00 am to 10:30 am) – We are considering the prospect of sponsoring a Christmas party for the young people of our community (ages 1 to 10). We will provide more information to later.
Christmas Luncheon For Seniors (Saturday, December 17, 2016, from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm) – More information will be provided later.
OTHER EVENTS TO CONSIDER
Saturday morning recreational programs
Movies in the park
Thanksgiving Dinner for seniors and lonely citizens (November 19, 2016)
Monthly Bingo, or game nights for seniors
Farmer's Market in the summer
2017 ACTIVITIES (all of the above plus)
Woodland Day and Valentine's Day Dinner/Dance
NEW COMMITTEES – SEEKING VOLUNTEERS
I have am now seeking volunteers to come forward and assist us with the many programs and activities that we are trying to create and establish in the Town of Woodland. These programs will help to create a more active community for all of our citizens. I would like to get representatives from all of the various neighborhoods in the town on each committee. This will hopefully also help to bring our town together and take us one step closer to being a “Community of Friends.”
Special Events Committee – The members of the Easter Parade/Easter Egg Hunt Committee have all agreed to serve as members of the Special Events Committee. This committee will be responsible for creating and establishing special town-wide events. Examples would be: The Woodland Craft Fair, our Town-Wide Yard Sale, Christmas Caroling and/or Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Easter Parade (with assistance and participation from local churches), Easter Egg Hunt, National Day of Prayer, Woodland Day (to celebrate the Town of Woodland, its history and its citizens), First Night Out (for safe neighborhoods and public safety), Youth Day.
Recreation Committee – This committee would be responsible for the establishment and oversight of regular, town-wide recreational activities. Examples would be: Programs for Senior Citizens (such as a meal/feeding program, perhaps similar to meals on wheels), Youth Recreation Program, After-School Program to not only work with school work, but to also teach young people life skills (such as sewing, ironing, filling out a job application, balancing a check book, etc.), or teaching them through hands-on work about the building trades (such as small engine repair, carpentry, plumbing and brick masonry).
Grant and Fund Raising Committee – This committee would be responsible for helping to identify and secure various sources for raising money for various town projects, such as the installation of the new well, the repairs for the water treatment system, recreational activities and special events.
Ministerial Alliance – I will start contacting our local clergy for the purposes of creating a Ministerial Alliance. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in Woodland and we need the support, guidance and leadership of our spiritual leaders to assist us with the many tasks at hand.
August 2016 Meeting - On August 3, 2016, Pattie and I will be in Florida, attending the wedding of our son, Joseph Salem. As a result, I will not be able to attend the regularly scheduled Town Council Meeting on Thursday, August 4, 2016. The Town Council has a choice to either have the meeting as scheduled, or re-schedule the meeting for the following week, August 11, 2016.
Northampton County Planning Board – During our February meeting, I advised the Town Council that Ms. Virginia Spruill, a member of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners, asked that I identify someone from the Town of Woodland to serve as a representative on the Northampton County Planning Board. At our meeting, I asked all of the commissioners to consider any individuals that they would like to be considered for this position.
I would like to submit Margaret Burgwyn as a potential candidate. Ms. Burgwyn is a a life-long resident of the Town of Woodland and has previously served as Mayor. I welcome any other suggestions from Town Board members and ask that we be prepared to discuss and vote on a candidate at our April meeting.